Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sailors Deserve Better!

People join the military for many reasons. Some join for a sense of family; others, for a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. They have said they wanted experience, while some hoped to travel. Expectant young fathers have wrestled for years over which is most important: marriage vows or military oaths. Years ago, the military was an option for troubled young men told by families or authorities they needed discipline. For generations, people have run to the service to get away from something, searching for something.

My father was drafted into service at the height of World War II and served a single four-year term. He had no interest in making the Army Air Corps his career. Fortunate that he never had to serve in the trenches, he felt he could provide for his family better as a civilian.

A little more than twenty years later, the United States Marine Corps drafted my oldest brother, who went from Parris Island to Vietnam. He finished his second term in North Carolina, then decided he didn't want to reenlist.

My youngest brother, who was born nineteen years after the Marine * yes, my parents populated the entire boomer generation* enlisted into the National Guard before deciding to make the military his way of life. He joined the Navy full time and retired after twenty years. My sister's husband also retired from the Navy. Numerous cousins also retired from military careers.

The next generation in my family has its share of military personnel, covering nearly every branch. Enlisting into service, they swore oaths and signed documents promising and expecting certain things from the contract. Sailors, as all military personnel, make many sacrifices and their families sacrifice much, to support their sailors. In November, more than 15,000 sailors and their families are outraged when they learned from the Enlisted Retention Board that they are being "involuntarily separated from the United States Navy."

Emily Anelli, a Proud Navy Wife insists It's not over for her sailor. She asks,
Why is it 2,947 sailors serving more than 7 and less than 15 years are suddenly being pushed out?
She's not the first Navy Wife to complain that her husband, halfway to retirement, is being denied that for which he has dutifully and faithfully sacrificed and proudly served.

I agree with Mrs. Anelli when she pleads:
It is only fair to let the 2,947 sailors finish their contracts. Honor the benefits they have worked so hard for, respect the work they have done and uphold the contract between the government and these sailors.
Mrs. Anelli states that her husband was approved for reenlistment December 2010 with a ceremony in January 2011. A year later, he learned that his service is no longer required. What changed? Why is it that the government suddenly finds him redundant? Why not allow him to complete his contract? If he had decided to opt out of his end of the contract he might be considered AWOL.

Can't we hold the government to the same standards to which it expects its personnel?  If the military chooses to dismiss members in the same way a corporation might dismiss employees during a downsize, what recourse do those members have when a contract is broken?

Our sailors deserve better. Let those who want to retire, do so. Give them their benefits, not a severance slip.